Movement to calm traffic picks up
When the pandemic struck, Bourkevale Community Centre organizers decided to pivot their efforts to create a safe and active neighbourhood outside of the building’s four walls, said board president Daevid Ramey.
To make this happen, Ramey helped launch Bourkevale 30, a grassroots campaign to drop the area’s speed limit to 30 km/hr. Bourkevale 30 officially kicked off on July 18.
“This is a perfect opportunity to engage an entire community and get it done,” Ramey said. “We really want to develop a groundswell of support.”
Many studies have reported that pedestrians have a significantly higher rate of survival if struck by a vehicle travelling 30 km/hr rather than 50 km/hr, he explained.
“If you create space for folks just to wander around and feel safe from vehicles, they’ll come out and use that space in a really great way,” Ramey said.
There are no main through-roads in the Bruce Park neighbourhood, Ramey explained. It’s bookended to the west by George Waters Middle School and Bourkevale Park and Assiniboine Children’s Centre and Jae Eadie Park to the east. The Assiniboine River caps the area to the south and Portage Ave. does the same to the north.
“We thought we could make this one of the most livable communities in the city by just getting the speed limit lowered to ensure everyone felt comfortable and our streets were safe and accessible,” Ramey said.
Some residents have taken to walking down back alleys to avoid walking where cars often reach the speed limit, he said.
With a newly printed set of campaign signs in hand, Ramey and his family set out on a recent muggy July evening to drop them off to fellow Bourkevale 30 supporters.
The first stop was the home of Robert Froese, who’s lived down the street from Bourkevale Community Centre for six years.
Froese often rides his bike straight out of his garage to the trail systems bisecting the area. As an avid cyclist and self-described tree-hugger, Froese noted the area’s high level of active transportation.
“Nobody coming by any of these streets is here for any other purpose than (to go to) a destination within this area. They’re either going to their home or their friends or their neighbours or the community centre,” he said.
The city has designated the stretch of Assiniboine Avenue that runs through Bruce Park as a weekend and holiday bike route. Here, vehicle traffic is limited to one block from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Assiniboine Avenue, like a handful of other streets in the neighbourhood, doesn’t have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to share the road.
“You’ve got seniors with walkers, people walking their dogs and entertaining their children ... you get a car coming by here at 50 km/hr, that’s a death trap, there’s no reason for it,” Froese said.
Considering city workers must drop off and pick up the bike route barricades every weekend, Froese figures reducing the speed limit in the entire neighbourhood would save time and money.
Those interested in supporting the cause can find more information and a petition at www.mybourkevale.com